The following editorial was first published on Dec, 25, 2014, 10 years less a day since the devastating Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004. Today, Dec. 26, 2020, it’s now 16 years since that terrible event.
TEN YEARS AGO tomorrow, one of the most horrific natural disasters in history shattered the lives of thousands of people. On Boxing Day in 2004, a tsunami created by an undersea earthquake off the coast of Indonesia sent 50-ft. high waves sweeping through South Asia.
Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand were devastated; 230,000 people lost their lives. We think of that event in terms of its catastrophic consequences. We can’t help but put the 10th anniversary of this event in the context of the contradictions of this Christmas season, when we celebrate with joy while acknowledging the hardships faced by so many.
Yet there’s reason to be hopeful. Ten years ago, the people of Kamloops extended a hand to the victims of the tsunami in the village of Tangalle in Sri Lanka. Several delegations from Kamloops travelled to Tangalle, not just to give moral support but to roll up their sleeves and begin the work of rebuilding.
Entire housing projects were constructed, while expertise helped improve services, health and education. While other B.C. cities helped other places in the early days after the tsunami, that help gradually waned. Amazingly, the Kamloops-Tangalle friendship continues to this day, based on an agreement signed between their two local governments shortly after the tsunami.
I was honored to be the signatory to that agreement on behalf of Kamloops, and I’ll never forget the modest but touching ceremony in Tangalle’s town hall when our two delegations made our relationship official. Much more importantly, volunteers from Kamloops have continued to assist the people of Tangalle, some even investing in the local economy there.
Tangalle is a much different place than it was in the days, months and years following the destruction and death brought by the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004, and Kamloops residents can think back with satisfaction on their role in the healing of that village in Sri Lanka.